Our Team

Dee Cresswell
Dee has been the General Manager for RISE (formerly SVS - Living Safe) since 2010 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the non-profit sector, both in New Zealand and overseas. She has lived and worked in Vietnam, Cambodia, Bougainville, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Laos, and Zimbabwe. She feels strongly about the organisation having solid financial management, sound human resources practices, and the best staff possible to deliver the organisation’s services. Dee is based in the Nelson office and works one day a week in the Motueka office.

Dee has a Bachelor of Business Studies, a Diploma in Business and Administration in Management, and a Diploma in Development Studies, all from Massey University. Dee lives in Motueka and loves spending time reading and being in the outdoors.

Lois Hewetson
Lois joined RISE in the Nelson office in 2018 as its Clinical Leader, bringing two decades of knowledge and experience to our service. She most recently spent five years as a Survivor Specialist with Project Restore, a national organisation providing restorative justice to those affected by sexual violence. She was also in private counselling during this time, providing predominately ACC counselling to children. Prior to this she lived in Christchurch where she spent ten years with Timataia te Mahi-oranga – START Healing STOP Abuse counselling sexual abuse survivors of all ages. She also spent five years working with Battered Women’s Refuge in Christchurch. Lois specialises in the field of violence and trauma because she believes people can change their behaviour, thoughts and feelings with the right support and information.

Lois has a Diploma in Applied Counselling and Psychotherapy Studies from the Nelson Polytechnic, now Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. She is ACC accredited and has spent the last five years training in psychodrama with the Centre for Experiential Development and Learning in Nelson. She experiences the method of psychodrama as assisting people (including herself) to gain insight into their lives and provides a systems thinking approach.  Lois grew up in the Rai Valley and enjoyed family holidays in the Nelson Sounds.  She has three adult daughters and 5 grandchildren.  She lives with her Cantabrian born husband in Nelson.

Aaron Agnew

Since 2017, Aaron has been a Clinician with RISE based in Nelson. He works predominantly with male and youth clients in the non-violence field. Previously, Aaron worked for the Department of Corrections as a Programme Facilitator specialising in the Mauri Toa Rangitahi programme, a specialist rehabilitation programme for ages 18-21 within the Corrections system. His background is in adventure therapy and he pursues ongoing study in this area. What keeps Aaron engaged is seeing the change and growth that occurs for individuals and families when given the support and how this helps them have healthier, happier communities now and into the future.

Aaron has a Master of Education in Counselling from Canterbury University and a Bachelor of Leisure and Sport from Waikato University. He enjoys the outdoors with his family for the adventure and balance they bring to life. He particularly likes mountain biking, running, getting out into the mountains and when possible, surfing.

One of our Nelson-based Clinicians, Mark has a background of working with groups in the adventure tourism industry. He mostly works with non-violence programmes and with youth and specialises in anxiety, stress, and self-belief. He brings 15 years of group experience and nine years of counselling experience in the field of family violence to our practice. Previously, Mark worked as a crisis phone counsellor for Lifeline and as a mentor for the Timaru Grey Road youth drop in centre. Knowing people and families will have a better, happier future is what keeps Mark in this line of work.

Mark has a Bachelor of Applied Social Science with a major in counselling
from Waikato Institute of Technology. He lives in the Nelson region with his daughter.

Jane Brash

Jane works in Nelson and Motueka as a Counsellor and Child-Centered Play Therapist Intern. She joined RISE in 2021 and also works in private practice with adults, teens and youth. She is a Circle of Security (COS) International Parent Facilitator with an extensive background working with families as a counsellor for Perinatal Support Nelson.


Jane has a Bachelor of Applied Social Science in Counselling from Waikato Institute of Technology. She has trained in the Circle of Security (COS) Attachment Model and is a CPW Intern with ChildPlayWorks in Hamilton. She is a registered member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors. Originally from Wellington, Jane has settled in Nelson where she enjoys the outdoor lifestyle of the beaches, the multitude of fantastic walks, and hours of sunshine.

Lara Buswell

Lara started working as a Clinician for RISE in December 2015, the day after she graduated from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology; her final placement for her degree was with RISE, formerly SVS - Living Safe. She works one-on-one with women, men, and children and she co-facilitates an educative group programme for women. Lara was born in Nelson, grew up in Dunedin, and returned to live in Nelson in 2013. She is passionate about teaching people what healthy relationships look like, compared to abusive ones, and that change is possible.

Lara holds a Bachelor of Applied Social Sciences (Social Work) in 2015 and a Certificate in Introduction to Social Work and Counselling in 2010 from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Joining RISE in 2021, Diane, or Di, is based in Nelson and works as Clinician with our Non-violence programme. Coming from Hawkes Bay to Nelson in 2020, Di worked for Dove Hawkes Bay for 4 years as a Programmes Manager/Clinical Leader overseeing the clinicians and the MSD, MOJ and DoC contracts and for more than a decade prior as a facilitator for their men’s and women’s non-violence programmes. She also facilitated adult safety programmes and worked in high schools. Most recently she helped MOJ and MSD in Hawke’s Bay with an initiative to test and further develop a new service that responded to people who were served a Police Safety Order by engaging with them, their whānau, and the support agencies in place to provide support.

Di has a Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Eastern Institute of Technology and has attended various trainings on Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi, communication and language and working with vulnerable children. 

Kimberley Davidson
Kimberley is one of RISE’s Motueka-based Clinicians and she joined the organisation in 2019. Recently she spent two years working with women suffering from postnatal depression and trauma. She has also worked with youth, spending one year as a high school counsellor and four years working with special needs youth. Kimberley says it’s rewarding to be part of the process of working alongside people of all ages as they navigate their way through challenges.

Kimberley has a Bachelor of Counselling at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Jeannette Jensen

Jeannette is a contractor working from the Nelson office since 2015. She co-facilitates the men’s Non-Violence Programme and has worked with other groups and individuals on safety education. Prior to 2015, she worked for Stopping Violence Services Christchurch, also facilitating non-violence programmes for men, women, and youth. During the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, while working for Relationships Aotearoa, she broadened her counselling services to include family mediation and counselling and worked with many clients experiencing trauma. Jeannette started her professional career in IT, banking and payroll, working for at the Royal NZ Navy Dockyard in Devonport, but changed careers in 2004 because she wanted to do what she was passionate about: helping people. She loves being on the journey alongside the people she helps to share effective tools that equip people and families to be happier and safer.

Jeannette has a diploma in Counselling from Vision College in Christchurch. She is a member of New Zealand Christian Counsellors Association (NZCCA). She was born in Devon in the UK and emigrated to New Zealand as a teenager. She has been married for 30 years to a Canadian man, also an immigrant, and they have two teenage sons and an old, big, black Doberman. She loves swimming all year round as well as running and cycling and she’s a serious coffee afficionado.

Benita Lawrence
Benita joined RISE’s Motueka office in 2016 as a Clinician. She works with men, women, youth and children impacted by family violence. In the past she worked with youth, people experiencing mental illness, and people with disabilities to assess their workplace needs and to understand how workplaces and community participation facilitates mental and emotional wellbeing. Benita is passionate about being part of positive change in people’s loves. She feels that assisting in the healing of even one family, can impact positively on the whole (extended) family.

Benita holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching from Christchurch College of Education and Learning and a Level 7 Visual Arts Diploma.

Victor MacGill, PhD
Victor joined RISE in 2014, working in both its Nelson office and in Kaikōura on the non-violence programme. He was a programme facilitator and probation officer for the Department of Corrections for nine years prior. Earning a PhD in systems theory, he has used his study to develop a systems-based understanding of the nature of violence and this helps inform his work. Victor has four relevant peer reviewed publications. He is the author of two books, Gonna lay down my sword and shield and When the Dragon Stirs and the co-author of two additional books. He is currently working on a follow up book. Victor is intensely curious about the nature of human behaviour and continued use of violence to resolve differences and strategies to develop alternatives. Victor lives an idyllic lifestyle in a motorhome cruising the amazing land we live in with his partner Monika. He has an adult daughter living in Melbourne.

Victor holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Māori Studies from Canterbury University, a Master of Arts in Chaos, Complexity and Creativity from the University of Western Sydney, and a Doctorate in Systems Theory from the University of the Sunshine Coast. He also holds a Diploma in Social and Community Work from Otago University.


Wayne joined RISE for the second time around in early 2020. Today, he’s a Clinician – Social Worker facilitating groups and working one-on-one with adults and youth clients as a clinician and social worker. On his first stint with RISE more than 10 years ago, when it was named SVS – Living Safe, he was studying to become a social worker and trained with the organisation, facilitating groups with men and youth. He started a full-time role after graduation for a few years. In between, Wayne worked for Presbyterian Services as a youth worker and at Barnardos as a family violence response coordinator before moving to Australia. Initially taking time out to travel, Wayne took up various roles with an organisation on the Gold Coast and at Broken Hill Hospital. But Wayne’s home has always been Nelson, and so he returned last year to his family, his home in central Nelson, and to RISE. Wayne feels that if he is going to practice social work, it should be in his home community.

Wayne received his Diploma in Social Work from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology in 2007 and is a Registered Social Worker. He lives in Nelson and spends his spare time playing tennis and golf and enjoying the Nelson climate and community.

Pegeen O’Rourke

Working in both Nelson and Motueka, Pegeen joined RISE in April 2021 as the Coordinator for the daily Safety Assessment Meetings under the Family Violence Inter-Agency Response System. She has previously worked in family violence roles in the Courts and Corrections. Employed for ten years as a family violence coordinator for New Zealand Police, Pegeen trained front line staff and coordinated an integrated response to family violence events that supported and empowered all parties. She has worked extensively with survivors of family violence and those who are bravely aspiring to make changes to their harmful behaviour. She is committed to safety planning, problem solving, and goal setting for all members of the family.


Pegeen has a Bachelor of Psychology/Sociology and a Post-graduate diploma in Adult Teaching and Learning from Canterbury University. She lives in the Tasman region with her family, is a keen gardener and walker, and has done production, on screen driving and double work for New Zealand movies.

Seth Turner

Seth joined RISE in the Motueka office in 2017 as a Clinician. He is a trained psychotherapist and has been practicing for 15 years. He completed his psychotherapy training in Brisbane, Australia in 2005. Much of his work has been with traumatised individuals, specifically with the indigenous population in Australia, perpetrators and victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse survivors, the long term unemployed as well as working extensively with the adolescents. Seth specialises in working with insecure attachment, complex trauma, PTSD, anxiety and depression.

His approach is eclectic and is embedded in an understanding of attachment dynamics and draws on his experience from various therapeutic modalities. Warm and transparent, Seth aims to facilitate the individual’s natural motivation towards integration through the development of a strong sense of self, the courage for change and through a collaborative curiosity the into the individual’s internal landscape.

Seth holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology from the University of Massey. He is a member of the Psychotherapists Board of Aotearoa New Zealand and the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists/National Collective of Māori Psychotherapy Practitioners. He is an ACC accredited psychotherapist.

Michiel van Boekhout
Since 2013, Michiel has been a Clinician with RISE based in Motueka facilitating groups and counselling individuals, predominantly adult men. He is the Safe Families Motueka Champions Co-ordinator a project that champions individuals/family in the community to speak out against family violence. With over 14 years of experience working in the family violence field, including facilitating men in relationships and ante natal groups, Michiel remains passionate about this mahi by approaching clients with respect and non-judgement. He has a strong belief in people’s potential for change to live more in line with their values and the long-term effects in families where that change is carried out.

Michiel holds a Diploma in Counselling from Bible College of New Zealand (now Laidlaw College). He and his wife emigrated from the Netherlands to New Zealand in 1978, first living in Auckland and moving to Motueka in 2013 where four of their mokopuna live. They indulge in walking, cycling, and swimming.


Georgina White
Georgina, or ‘Georgie,’ joined RISE in 2021 and works across several of our services. She recently relocated from Canada where she provided support to children, youth and their families in multiple rural schools. Georgie’s years of experience walking alongside youth through a wide range of life experiences including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, substance use, healthy relationships, grief, and emotional regulation has helped her develop into a curious, playful, and compassionate clinician that values the healing power of connection. She operates under a systemic and attachment-based lens, believing in the importance of empowering caregivers in their relationships with youth and children.

Georgie holds a Bachelor of Education specializing in Steiner education and she has a Masters of Counselling Psychology. She and her husband live in Tasman and enjoy backcountry adventures with their little schnauzer.



Joelene Whitfield
Joelene is one of RISE’s Nelson-based Clinicians. She has worked here since 2007 facilitating non-violence and safety programmes. Her specialised focus is working with youth.

She began her journey in this area of work as a student volunteering with Te Waiariki Women’s Refuge in Rotorua as an advocate for women and children. She worked there for three further years training and supporting volunteers. After, she facilitated group programs for youth as a trained high ropes instructor at Tui Ridge adventure Park and later as a women’s facilitator at Whenua Iti outdoor pursuits centre in Nelson. Prior to starting her role at RISE, when it was SVS-Living Safe, Joelene managed the Nelson/ Marlborough Branch of CanTeen, supporting teenagers living with cancer. She is passionate about supporting and empowering positive change within families in the community that she loves.


Joelene has a Bachelor of Applied Social Science with a major in Adventure Therapy and a Certificate in Adult Teaching. She’s a mum to four children.

Angela has worked with RISE since 2010 as its Service Coordinator. She provides administrative and clinical administrative support to the organisation and Clinicians. Over the years, Angela’s role has grown in line with the growth of the organisation. She attends the daily Family Harm meetings with other like social services and Police and is accredited to deliver the Strengthening Safety Service intervention for Ministry of Justice clients. Angela loves her work environment, her colleagues and making a difference in people’s lives.

Delwyn Donaldson
Delwyn started working with RISE in early 2020 in an administrative support role.

She worked for 12 years at Work and Income as a Case Manager and prior to that she was a filing cleark at Children and Young Person’s. Delwyn enjoys being front of face at reception and is very happy in her role and providing support where it is needed.

RISE delivers services into Nelson, Motueka, Golden Bay, Marlborough, Kaikoura, and the West Coast.
Please contact our Nelson office for information.

Nelson Office

Level 3, 295 Trafalgar Street

Phone: 03 548 3850

Txt: 027 548 3850


Motueka Office

15b Courtney Street

(site of Jack Inglis Care Home)

Phone: 03 528 8976